Thursday, 29 July 2010

A Tale of Two Hobbys

Three days of July about to whizz past... don't blink!

Friday 16th July

Cattleholmes: 6 Canada Goose (4 young), 4 Gadwall, 7 Mallard, 2 Tufted Duck (female and duckling), 1 Green Sandpiper, 2 Reed Bunting.

Harpham: 1 Red-legged Partridge, 2 Kestrel (1 juvenile?), 8 Lapwing, 2 Barn Owl, 80 Swift, 1 Common Whitethroat, c500 Corvids.

Kelk: 32 Greylag Goose, 1 Barn Owl, 60 Swift, 1 Yellow Wagtail, 2 Common Whitethroat, 1 singing Chiffchaff, 1 Bullfinch.

Saturday 17th July

Gembling: 4 Teal, 5 Little Grebe, 1 Gembling, 1 Hobby, 1 Curlew (flying west), 4 Green Sandpiper. Teal in July is rather unusual anywhere in the area.

Brigham Quarry: 1 Pochard (female), 13 Coot, 6 Lapwing.

Foston Mill: 2 Blackcap (female/juvs), 1 Spotted Flycatcher. The flycatcher is a year tick, and at the same site where one was seen two summers ago.

Kelk: 1 Grey Partridge, 1 Sparrowhawk, 300 Swift moving south away from rain, 1 Yellow Wagtail, 8 Long-tailed Tit.

Kelk Lake: 3 Little Grebe, 5 Coot (1 brood of 3), 2 Reed Warbler.

Harpham: 1 Sparrowhawk, 3 Common Buzzard, 1 Kestrel, 1 Hobby, 5 Stock Dove, 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker, 1 Tree Sparrow.

Sunday 18th July

Kelk Beck: 2 Mute Swan, 300 Swift moving south away from weather, 1 Kingfisher, 1 Reed Bunting. A nice though brief view of a Stoat was one of the highlights of the weekend along Lynesykes Lane - my first of the year!

Gembling: 15 Canada Goose, 2 Shelduck, 2 Grey Partridge, 170 Feral Pigeon.

Kelk: 1 Buzzard, 3 Kestrel (1 juvenile), 1 Kingfisher, 1 Yellow Wagtail.

Harpham: 1 Kingfisher, 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker.

You wait for months for a Kingfisher and three come along at once. Really, they're my first sightings since the winter and I was getting most concerned they'd been wiped out by the freeze.


Small numbers of gulls were moving around all weekend, mostly flying rather purposefully south-west. It was too early for any serious numbers of small gulls as breeding birds would still have been at their colonies and there was no ploughing activity to draw them in. By the end of July, i.e. when I'm writing this, the situation will be changing quickly.

Totals for the weekend: 26 Black-headed Gull, 15 Common Gull, 11 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 28 Herring Gull. The vast majority were adults.

I only noticed when writing this post that I still haven't seen a Great Black-backed Gull this year. A most unusual situation, though no panic, the best months for these beasts are Oct-Dec.


Poor conditions for butterflies; mostly windy, cloudy or drizzly. Most obvious were 'whites' and Ringlet were very widespread along hedgerows.

Totals for the whole weekend across the area are: 13 Meadow Brown, 5 Red Admiral, 58+ Ringlet, 8 Small Tortoiseshell, c100 'white' sp. All this brings the total species for the year to a disappointing 11.

Also noted were a 'blue' damselfly and a Common Darter at New Road.

And the two Hobbies tale?

Having missed out on Hobby in May and June I was determined to track one down in July - hardly the best month but needs must. The plan was simple; spend loads of time around Harpham where birds were seen last year. Friday drew a complete blank despite regularly scanning the skyline during 4 hours. Saturday morning looked more promising but after 2 hours we were still empty handed.

Quite suddenly large numbers of Swift began to move through at the front of a wave of rain cloud, about 300 inm total. Despite all the fast food going by, not a sniff of a Hobby. Five minutes later the distinct scything sillhouette of my favourite falcon whizzed across the top of the treeline and dipped behind. It had gone as quickly as it had appeared - absolutely typical. Never mind, I was still delighted. I'm glad I have enough experience with these falcons to be sure of the ID! Grief though, six hours in the field and barely as many seconds of action.

Later in the day when at Gembling I had just sat down for a breather when a group of Swallows began shreiking... hello, what's going on here... wowser, a Hobby flew right over my head and I was able to watch it move away for 20-30 seconds. Possibly the closest view I've had of one in the area, certainly the most satisfying.

The lesson? You need to try really hard to see a Hobby here but you just might get lucky.

So, with this and Spotted Flycatcher my yearlist moves to 109. A Turtle Dove was seen in Kelk in May so the recorded total reaches 110.

108 Turtle Dove
109 Hobby
110 Spotted Flycatcher

Wednesday, 21 July 2010


Here a few bird photos from the weekend. Nothing special just a few ropey shots including species I've not snapped before. Better than a kick in the proverbials, so to speak.

Why did the Collared Dove cross the road? So I could get a better picture, obviously.

Two Goldfinches at Harpham, doing what they do best - demolishing seed heads.

Three Green Sandpipers at Gembling. Out of shot on the left was a fourth bird, not a bad local gathering for late summer.

A Sedge Warbler out in the open by Kelk Beck, having a burst of morning song. They're usually moderately elusive so I'm actually quite pleased to get this shot without having to stake it out.

Male Reed Bunting by Kelk Beck, perched on oilseed. There are not many of these lovely buntings in the area and they are pretty unassuming so it's lovely to get any photo.

Last but not least a juvenile Swallow. Adult Swallows are quite obviously spectacular birds, no doubting that, but I have a real soft spot for the young birds.

Weekend report to follow...

Monday, 19 July 2010


My attempt at a lazy summer weekend was thwarted by strong winds for most of the weekend. Despite that a few goodies were seen including 2 Hobbys, 4 Green Sandpiper, 3 Kingfisher, and 1 Spotted Flycatcher. More of that later with some birdy pics in the meantime here's some photos not of birds.

Ringlet. This rather tatty one has a huge split in the wing.

Another Ringlet, showing the underside pattern, and more tatty wings.

Meadow Brown, showing the leaf-like underwing pattern. Normally the outer wings are visible and they show an 'eye' on an orange background.

A very very scruffy Small Tortoiseshell. Not much longer left for this individual.

Finally, not a butterfly but a tame Hare which allowed me to approach to a few metres. There were three others, presumably a family, close by.